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Supreme Court reserves order on Gautam Navlakha bail plea in Bhima Koregaon case

After going through all arguments made by the parties, the bench observed that the period of two days of transit remand can be calculated in the period of custody but the period of house arrest is still to be decided.

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The Supreme Court on Friday reserved the judgment on a bail plea of human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, challenging the Bombay High Court order rejecting his bail application in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case.

A two-judge bench of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice K. M. Joseph heard the Special Leave Petition (SLP) and asked both the parties to file their written arguments within a week. 

The Court further asked Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing petitioner, to present the original petition filed by the petitioner. The judgment will be pronounced after April 7.

Through the SLP, the petitioner has raised the question, “Can the period of house arrest be included in the 90 days period of arrest prescribed for grant of default bail?”

During the hearing, Advocate Sibal submitted that the personal liberty is one of the cherished rights of any person and there must not be any arbitrary detention. Gautam was under house arrest, following an order of the court, therefore it would be termed as judicial custody and the said period is to be included in the 90 days period under Section 167(2).

Opposing the petitioner, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju made the submission on behalf of the National Investigation Agency. He submitted that the period of transit will not be included in the 90 days period. He said that as according to the Section 167 of Cr. P. C. there has to be an order of a magistrate to begin the period to count the period of 90 days.

Thereafter, the bench asked Advocate Sibal that the petitioner was in police custody but police custody can only be granted in the first 15 days. On which Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, also appearing for the petitioner, answered it is not in UAPA.

After going through all arguments made by the parties, the bench observed that the period of two days of transit remand can be calculated in the period of custody but the period of house arrest is still to be decided.

The petitioner has filed an SLP against the Bombay High Court order in which authorization of the detention by the Magistrate under Section 167(2) of Cr.P.C. was in question and particularly when the detention has been held to be unlawful, can this period of custody still be included in the 90 days period prescribed for grant of default bail.

The Bombay High Court had held that the period from August 28, 2018 to October 1, 2018 has to be excluded from computing the period of 90 days as the said custody has been held to be unsustainable in law by the High Court of Delhi. 

The High Court of Delhi had also set aside the order passed by the learned CMM on August 28, 2018 granting transit remand to the petitioner. Thereafter, the petitioner applied for Anticipatory Bail which came to be rejected at all stages and ultimately the petitioner surrendered on March 14, 2020.

Read Also: Delhi water supply: Supreme Court directs Punjab, Haryana, Bhakra board to maintain status quo till April 6

The petitioner was arrested on October 28, 2018 at his residence in Delhi in connection with an FIR lodged following the Elgar Parishad held on December 31, 2017 and the Bhima Koregaon violence, a day after. 

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